Friday, 3 February 2023

Toy Boy Tunes

Born on 9 October 1947 – John Lennon’s seventh birthday - Sir Roderic Victor Llewellyn (better known as ‘Roddy’) is a British baronet, garden designer, journalist, author, and television presenter best known for his eight-year relationship with Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, the younger sister of the late Queen Elizabeth II.


They were introduced, at the Café Royal in Edinburgh in 1973, by Lady Anne Glenconner. At the time, Roddy was a gardener and, at 25 years old, a full 17 years younger than the princess.


The much-publicised relationship was a factor in the dissolution of the princess's marriage to the Earl of Snowdon. In 1976, photographs of Roddy and Margaret in Mustique appeared in the press, and Roddy was outed as Margaret’s ‘toy boy’. Llewellyn issued a public statement, saying that ‘I much regret any embarrassment caused to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family, for whom I wish to express the greatest respect, admiration and loyalty’.


The Queen was not happy, according to Princess Margaret’s authorized biographer, Christopher Warwick, who said that ‘The Queen didn’t approve of Roddy or of the relationship, and she thought that in all of this Roddy business, her sister was behaving badly.’ However, Lady Glenconner would later tell Vanity Fair that, ‘After Princess Margaret’s funeral, the Queen, she said, ‘I’d just like to say, Anne, it was rather difficult at moments, but I thank you so much [for] introducing Princess Margaret to Roddy ’cause he made her really happy.’ Personally, I find it difficult to believe that our later monarch would say ‘’Cause’, but there you have it.


At the height of their eight-year relationship, Roddy was persuaded to spend a few days in a recording studio. The results were issued as Roddy by Philips in 1978. According to the note, in Roddy’s own handwriting, on the reverse of the sleeve, ‘Like lots of other people I have always wanted to make a record, and I feel very fortunate to have now done this. We all had a lot of fun recording the album – hope you enjoy it too.’


He may have ‘always wanted to make a record’, but there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would not have had he not been at the centre of a high-profile scandal. Musically, it’s slick, synthy, lightweight stuff, but the simple fact is that Llewellyn cannot sing. There’s a difference between bumbling through a few bars of a song at home and standing in front of a microphone in a professional studio, attempting to cut a hit recording. The voice is too mannered, too thin and too flat. I’m sure he did have ‘a lot of fun’, and today, with a little touch of autotune and a more forgiving backing, he might have gotten away with it, but when you’re crooning along to what is essentially the soundtrack to a seventies sitcom there’s no room to hide.


Produced by Tony Eyers, who specialised in recording musak-versions of standards for the foreign market (including Reggae Music Played By Tony Eyers, and Tony Eyers Plays Beach Boys, both issued in Sweden in 1977) but will be best known for writing I’m On Fire, a hit for 5,000 Volts, featuring the voice (if not the face) of Tina Charles.


By the beginning of 1981, Roddy and Margaret were through and, on 11 July 1981, Llewellyn married Tatiana Soskin, a daughter of film producer Paul Soskin. The couple have three daughters, Alexandra, Natasha, and Rosie.


In 2009 Roddy succeeded his elder brother David (better known as ‘Dai’), to the Llewellyn baronetcy. Roddy and Dai had a difficult relationship, and barely spoke to each other after the elder Llewellyn talked to newspapers about his brother’s relationship with a royal. 25 years after his relationship with Margaret had ended, Roddy Llewellyn told the Daily Mail that he still could not bring himself to forgive his brother’s ‘betrayal’. Dai dismissed him as a ‘snob and a resentful, chippy little twerp’, but the brothers were reconciled shortly before Dai’s death.


Now aged 75, he’s still working and he’s still singing. Apparently, when he went to meet actor Helena Bonham Carter, while she was preparing to play Princess Margaret in the Netflix drama series The Crown, ‘He started singing a song in my kitchen,’ she revealed to the Sunday Times. ‘He came to tea with me and Harry [Treadaway], who plays Roddy. He was so fun and warm — that’s what she needed. He’s very musical.’ Well, I’ll leave you to make up your own minds there, with a couple of tracks from Roddy: Missing Her Again and Crazy World.




Download Missing HERE


Download Crazy HERE

1 comment:

  1. Tramp was the name of the nightclub that served as the locale for the record's launch IIRC.

    Speaking of Princess Margaret I'm sure her other beau John Bindon didn't need to be given a recording contract and a foot in the early Disco scene to furnish her with a cracking twelve-incher. Failing that he could help Roddy out in the garden if a pick-axe handle was needed.


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